“It doesn’t matter what strip you wear, what’s in your heart is the important thing”
With another EFL season about to get underway, Peter Gilham – Brentford FC's PA announcer and fan favourite – tells us how the club has supported him through his prostate cancer diagnosis, and why he thinks it's so important the football family continues to support Prostate Cancer UK.
As I start my 50th year as PA announcer at Brentford Football Club, it’s fair to say that – apart from my wife – it's the greatest love of my life. I’d say most people have got red blood, but the blood in my veins is red and white – it’s something I live for.
When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I can’t tell you how humbled I was by the amount of support I received. I’ve followed Brentford since I was seven years old and I’ve seen over 2,800 Brentford games over the years, so I consider Griffin Park my second home, and everyone here – the staff, players and fans – as my family.
The moment I announced my diagnosis, it just took off. I had messages from fans, players past and present, managers from around the country and from people who’ve also been affected by prostate cancer. It was just amazing. Then they held a collection for Prostate Cancer UK, and then came the enormous flag.
The day the flag was shown at Griffin Park for the first time was immense. I keep using this word, but the support I’ve had and continue to have from everybody is totally humbling. To see the flag on show at the ground helps me to stay so positive – it really does mean a lot.
The club have also been brilliant; I couldn’t ask for better employers and they also got involved in Prostate Cancer UK’s Football March for Men, following on from Jeff Stelling’s incredible efforts over the last couple of years. Football fans from across London marched towards Wembley to converge at the home of English football, and Griffin Park was one of the stops en route.
With all their fundraising events in football throughout the year, Prostate Cancer UK is asking fans to put their rivalries aside – and I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t matter whether you wear red and white, blue and white, or black and white, but it’s what’s in your heart, and the reason you’re there is the important thing. People forget about their rivalries when it comes to these things.
At Griffin Park, we normally get a crowd of about ten thousand. So there could be 1,250 people here who may have prostate cancer. Those kinds of figures are startling, and the reason we need fans to join together and take action.
So I’d say to anyone thinking of taking part in a marathon march, cycling, making a giant flag or doing anything for Prostate Cancer UK – whatever it is, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s so important and you’ve got my full backing and the backing of the whole football family. Thank you and enjoy the new season.